Getting Your Dog To Wear Booties!

Written by Kayla Poisson, CCDT, PDT, PDT-G, CTDI, CCFC, Elite FFCAT, MAT
Member of APDT, PPG, LIMA Trainer, CGC Evaluator

While it is cute when dogs where boots and also funny when they clump around at first, there are actually many benefits for them. A few are:

  • Dogs with long fur on their paws, while walking will have ice crystals forming which will not only cause the ice to cut the paw but will also make it uncomfortable for them to walk.
  • Dogs walking or hiking in snow will lose their core body temp through their paws.
  • The rule of thumb is, if you can’t keep your bare hand on the ground for 5 seconds then it’s too cold (or hot) for your dog and they need paw protection.
  • Everyone is using deicer on the streets and sidewalks but not everyone is using a pet safe brand. So, if your dog is walking along and collecting the deicer on their paws then they will go home and lick it off their paws, this can be toxic to them.
There are many types of booties out there on the market. So, which one is the best? That is completely up to you, your dog and your budget.
Some features you need to look for are a strap to go around the top of the boot. This will help the boot stay on and the snow stay out. Also, having good grip on the bottom of them will help stabilize your pup on the ice. Lastly, you’ll want them to be bright colored just in case your pup kicks them off into the snow, you will be able to find them.
How to find the correct boot size

Some dogs have wider feet and do better in a different brand then a dog with slim feet. One thing to keep in mind is most dogs have different size feet and their front paws are usually a size bigger than their back paws. The best way to measure for boots is to have your dog step onto a piece of paper and draw the outline of either side of the paw. Then take a ruler and measure the width between the lines. This will help with looking at boots online but also looking at dimensions at the store. You can also take that paper to help find a size by holding it up to your boot. Once finding the size you think they are, have your pup try them on if that is allowed.


How to get your pup comfortable wearing boots
There are many ways to get your dog used to wearing boots. Here are two ways we like that have been tried and tested. The first one is for unsure and nervous dogs. The second is for more confident dogs. The goal is that your dog likes/tolerates the boots. We don’t want them to run when they see them or freeze and refuse to move in them. We want this to be a positive experience for your pup.


Version 1 for fearful or timid dogs

  1. Get some yummy high-value treats. You can even use peanut butter or easy cheese. For dogs who love to play, you can also use toys as a reward.
  2. Second, make sure they are comfortable with their feet being touched. If they do not tolerate their paws being touched, please call so we can have our behavior team set you up with an appointment to discuss further training.
  3. When your pup is calm, slip one boot on and give lots of treats. Play a game with them like fetch or tug or whatever game your pup loves the most.
  4. If your pup is tolerating that boot then put another one on and play a game or give lots of treats.
  5. Take boots after a couple minutes or when you notice your pup is struggling with them.
  6. Give a break after the last session, a few hours or a day. Then start again with the same process but putting both boots on at the same time. Make this a super fun experience.
  7. Next training session at least 2 hours after the previous session. This time put the boots on and go for a walk, play fetch or tug-of-war. Something fun and great for your pup. After the event take the boots off and give a couple treats to let them know they’re doing great.
  8. Next day you can repeat step 6 if your dog was very unsure or you can add the third boot if they did great. When adding the third boot you will be repeating steps 3-5.
  9. A little bit after the last training session you can add the fourth and last boot by giving treats and then go for a walk, play fetch, or tug-of-war.
Version 2 for happy and confident dogs
  1. For super happy and confident dogs who nothing really phases them, you can add 2 boots and give lots of treats and go for walk. Most dogs will walk funny at first but will get used to it over the course of the walk. If they are super stressed over this then please refer to version 1.
  2. After your walk please wait a few hours or a day to repeat step 1 with just the first 2 boots.
  3. This step you will have the first two boots on but now also add the last two boots. The process will be the same as step 1 & 2. Give lots of reinforcement while out on a walk. You can also play fetch or a game of tug-of-war.
  4. Final step is do another walk with all four boots on. Also play a game after.
Pro Tip: Research shows that playing a game after a training session allows them to retain the training better. So, play fetch, game of chase, or a game of tug after all training sessions. This also helps build the bond between you and your dog.
Some dogs do okay if you put all four boots on and just go for a walk or play fetch. However, most dogs do not like anything on their feet and this method can backfire on you. They can end up hating the boots and running whenever they see them or trying to rip them off their feet.